Other Cruel Things

by Ray Succre

How to Write This Poem

The just-shy of four gave an aggregate blue—
you know this; summery days are full of that color,
as are certain corals and puffing moods.

What I should be doing is introducing the point:
My son is an ant-killer, half in confusion,
and half less than kind.
The themes of this poem are cruelty and weight,
in Summer three-quarters past three.

Let me start here: Nothing happened.
Little emmet nest spoiled, little lives spilling.
My son at their outskirts devastates the line-gang,
each ant, in turn lost beneath a foot.

The climax of this poem is when I describe
his killer eyes as well-cut jewels of June.

After this, to end the poem anew,
I add that we soon pass into the stomach of our home
to ease away and unseat the hotness from our blood.

About Other Cruel Things

My process is trying to put something different in each poem, to re-examine certain themes in differing styles and narration. So the experiment pretty much falls on each poem, individually, and how they might play with one another in the order of the book, somewhat back and forth between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person.

Ray Succre

Encomiums for Other Cruel Things

Ray Succre is a poet of unusually original and captivating fascinations—a lover of the cadences and delicacies of language who writes poems that slip needle-like beneath the skin of conscious experience. In an unconventional yet refined style void of sentimentality, he crafts well-oiled machines that effortlessly capture the reader. Other Cruel Things is a book to be read again and again.

Andrew David King

Ray Succre writes with a word-drunk surrealist on one shoulder and a world-loving angel on the other. His poems sing like no one else’s. There are enough lovely images in just a few pages of Succre’s new collection to light the way to Elysium. There are more lovely images in just those few pages than most poets employ in their lifetimes. I’d say Other Cruel Things is the acme (so far) of Succre’s fascinating and firecracker career. This book hit me like a fresh wind, though, really he’s been saying these things all along, things like “If it should happen/that I believe too much, too, I'll grow a garden,” and “She likes to hear about sex./I do not tell her what I know.” One of my favorite poem titles, not just of his but of any poet’s is “How to Write this Poem,” because it is a collaboration between reader and writer that Succre is after. And, he admonishes us in the opening poem, “I’ve no answer. Let’s talk.” The poet longs for the opening of a dialogue. Other Cruel Things is a book to savor, a book to read and reread. A book to listen to. I hope it garners Succre the larger audience he so richly deserves.

Corey Mesler
, author of The Ballad of the Two Tom Mores

Ray Ray Succre lives on the southern Oregon coast, U.S., with his wife and son. He has been writing for fifteen years, his poetry having appeared in over four hundred journals and publications spanning dozens of countries. He began writing novels in 2007. Other Cruel Things is his first published book of poetry.

Other books available from Ray Succre